If you have several cats in your home, there’s one sound that can fill you with dread unlike any other — and no, we’re not talking about the sound of your cat hacking up a hairball on the brand-new carpet.
We’re talking about the sound of a cat fight.
It’s not just terrifying — it can be hazardous to your cats’ health. As a result, you should break it up as quickly as you can.
Unless you know what you’re doing, though, you can easily get hurt in the process. In the guide below, we’ll show you how to safely break up any spats that occur.
7 Things to Know When Dealing With a Cat Fight
1. Try to Stop It Before It Starts
Cats will make a great deal of noise before the fight starts. They’ll threaten and posture in the hopes of proving their point without resorting to violence.
If you let them continue to threaten one another, a fight is likely unavoidable. If you step in before it escalates, though, you may be able to nip the violence in the bud.
Try to distract them from one another. Call to them, shake a bag of treats, or spray them with a water bottle.
If they decide that you’re more interesting than having a kerfuffle, you can then safely separate them.
If, however, they decide that they still want to scrap, you’re going to have to break them up — safely.
2. Keep Everyone Clear
All that ruckus is likely to draw spectators, like your kids or your dog.
Anyone in the area is a potential victim of the violence, so try to make sure no one comes to investigate. Close the door, or set up a physical barrier if possible.
Dogs should especially be kept away, as they can turn violent themselves if they witness a fight. The last thing you want is for your cats to start a fight that they both lose.
3. Don’t Use Your Body
The number-one rule of breaking up a cat fight is to keep your body clear of the carnage. If you stick your hands (or any other body parts) in between the two cats, you’ll likely get scratched or bitten.
Cat bites are awful, as their sharp teeth create deep puncture wounds and their mouths are full of bacteria. If you do get bitten, seek medical help right away, even if it doesn’t look serious. A seemingly-innocuous cat bite can easily turn into a serious infection.
They may even leave the tip of their tooth inside the wound. Doctors will often insist on an X-ray just to make sure your kitten didn’t give you any free souvenirs.
4. Grab Water
Water is the best way to break up a cat fight, and it doesn’t particularly matter where you get it.
If you have a spray bottle handy, grab it and open fire. A garden hose is even better, particularly if it has a spray nozzle at the end. If your cats often fight, it may even be worth investing in a Super Soaker.
You may even want to take the time to go into the kitchen and fill up a pot. It will allow the fight to drag on for a bit, but dousing them with as much water as possible is the best way to make sure the fight stops for good.
5. Reach for a Blanket
If you have a blanket or towel handy, you can try throwing it over the top of them. This can startle them, and it redirects their attention from fighting with one another to escaping the blanket.
It can be difficult to throw a blanket over a moving pile of cats, though, so this method is easy to screw up. Also, if it doesn’t work, all you’ve done is add another obstacle to breaking up the fight.
6. Clap Your Hands
Your cats’ hearts’ may not really be into fighting with one another. If so, simply clapping your hands loudly or shouting at them may be enough to get them to stop.
This works well on less-hostile cats, but those aren’t likely to start fighting in the first place. Still, it’s worth a shot.
7. Use a Physical Barrier
An item like a broom may help you separate the cats. Whatever you do, don’t hit them with it — that could cause serious injury, especially when combined with the effects of the fight.
Instead, use it to get between them. Try to gently separate them, and then steer one of them away from the other — completely out of the room, if possible.
What to Do in the Aftermath
Once you’ve broken the fight up, you need to separate the cats immediately. Otherwise, hostilities could flare up again.
Put them in separate rooms, and give them each their own food, water, and litter box. Give them a few minutes to collect themselves.
After they’ve calmed down, you can go in and inspect each one for visible injuries. If you see any open wounds or broken bones, take them to the hospital immediately. If both cats are injured, make sure you put them in separate carriers.
How to Prevent Fights
The best way to stop a cat fight is to prevent it from ever happening in the first place. Here are a few tips to make sure your cats will stop attacking one another.
1. Get Them Fixed
Many cat fights are due to hormones, especially when you have two unfixed animals of the same gender living together.
One of the easiest ways to nip this problem in the bud is to get them fixed. This will go a long way toward calming down their hormones.
Not only that, but you won’t have to worry about becoming a grandparent if they get outside.
2. Make Sure There’s Plenty to Go Around
Resource guarding is another big cause of cat fights. The resource in question can be almost anything — food, water, litter box access, room on the cat tree, or even your attention.
Try to make sure that there are plenty of resources to go around so they don’t have to fight over anything. Buy multiple litter boxes, put scratching posts all over your house, and give each cat an equal amount of your time.
Also, you may notice that the cats always fight in the same spot. This is a clue that they’re being territorial. Make sure that area has plenty of vertical space so they can get away from one another; failing that, you might want to make the area off-limits entirely.
3. Force Proximity on Them — Safely
Buy a large dog crate (not a cat carrier), and place one of the cats in it. Make sure there are food, water, and a litter box inside.
Then, lock the other cat in the room with them — outside of the crate, of course. Leave them alone in there for a few hours. Do this every day for several days, alternating which cat goes into the crate.
Once they can tolerate each other’s presence, let them both be out of the crate at the same time. Play with them, and give them both a few treats, being sure to heap praise and love on them. If one tries to start something, that cat goes into the crate and you start the process all over.
Keep this up until you can have them in the same room without incident. It may take a while, but the rewards are well worth it.
4. If All Else Fails, Talk to Your Vet
Cats may fight because one of them is ill or in pain, so it’s worth getting them checked out to make sure there’s not anything serious going on under the surface.
If both cats are healthy, your vet may recommend an animal behaviorist, or they might put your cats on mood-altering drugs.
That may seem excessive, but it’s definitely better than having to re-home one of your babies.
How Can You Tell the Difference Between a Play-Fight and the Real Thing?
Cats often wrestle with one another, and they can be extremely rambunctious as they do so. If you don’t know what to look for, it can be easy to mistake regular roughhousing for a Texas death match.
Playful cats are usually fairly quiet (until they knock a picture frame over, that is). If you hear growling, yowling, and hissing, there’s probably a real fight going on.
They tend to move slowly when playing with one another as well. You’ll see one cat lean in ever so slowly before pouncing, and the two will then wrestle for a few moments before breaking up.
If they don’t break things up frequently, that’s a bad sign. Playful cats will stop and regroup every few seconds, while fighting cats will keep going at one another.
Playful wrestling is a good and healthy thing for cats to do, so don’t break it up or spray them with water or anything like that. However, if you notice any of the telltale signs of a cat fight mentioned above, take action as soon as possible.
Play the Peacemaker
Having two of your cats fight can be terrifying, but if you stay calm and follow the steps we’ve outlined for you, you should be able to break things up quickly — and before anyone gets hurt.
Featured Image Credit: Kapa65, Pixabay
- 7 Things to Know When Dealing With a Cat Fight
- What to Do in the Aftermath
- How to Prevent Fights
- How Can You Tell the Difference Between a Play-Fight and the Real Thing?
- Play the Peacemaker